Is your loved one tired of trying treatment to no avail? Do they want to enjoy the rest of their days in the comfort of their own home? Hospice care can provide comfort and peace of mind for those nearing the end of life.
What is Hospice Care?
Hospice care focuses on caring for instead of curing terminal illnesses. It is designed to help those who have exhausted all treatment options and are nearing the end of life (generally with an outlook of six months or less to live). Hospice may also be used only during a person’s final few days or for longer than 6 months if recommended by a physician1. The majority of hospice patients are elderly, but this type of care can benefit individuals of any age, including children, in their last stages of terminal illness.
The decision to use hospice care is generally dependent on the individual’s diagnosis along with how the individual and family members view their health2. Several researchers have found that patients utilizing hospice care often have multiple comorbidities, which are additional health conditions along with their primary diagnosis. According to The Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing2, this may represent a significant need for hospice care as multiple body functions begin to fail at the end of life.
Hospice care manages pain and symptoms, assists with emotional and psychological aspects of nearing death, provides medical supplies and medication, teaches family how to care for their loved one, and provides care and counseling to family and friends.
This type of care is generally provided in the home with a family member as the primary caregiver to the patient. It can also be provided in hospice centers, hospitals, or nursing homes for those with advanced symptoms or those without a caregiver.
Benefits of Hospice Care
Hospice care is generally provided in the home of your loved one. This allows them to spend the remainder of their life in a familiar and comfortable place as opposed to experiencing the anxiety and discomfort that comes in a hospital setting. This also makes it possible to honor the individual’s preferences about end of life care along with being prepared for after life care.
- Team of Professionals
While a hospital stay can deal with the medical concerns of the patient and a caregiver can assist with activities of daily life, hospice care covers a wide range of services including both medical and nonmedical concerns. Hospice care is provided by a team of professionals in a wide range of services from a medical doctor to a family counselor.
According to The Journal of the American Medical Association1, members of the team may include a physician with specialized education in palliative medicine, nurses with education in caring for dying patients, social workers, therapists, chaplains or other spiritual leaders, specially trained aides, and volunteers. These professionals are trained in their fields and understand the emotional and physical discomfort of the patient and their family and friends. This team of professionals allows the individual to maintain the highest quality of life possible for the remainder of their life.
- All Types of Care
During hospice care, all types of pain are addressed, including physical, emotional, and spiritual. This ensures the patient not only maintains comfort, but also dignity throughout the remainder of their life. For medical concerns, a doctor and pharmacist work together to provide medication and medical supplies. A religious leader of your choosing can help your loved one and family members work through the spiritual aspects of the end of life. Emotional pain and suffering by both the patient and family are addressed by a psychological professional.
- Support for Family
In most care situations, support is only provided for the patient. However, in the case of hospice care, support and counseling are also offered for family and friends during and after care. This can help family and friends to prepare for the death of their loved one and cope with the emotional distress after death. Support for the family can also deal with financial issues that arise in the end of life stage.
Hospice care can add greatly to the comfort of your loved one in the end stages of life along with helping family and friends throughout the process.
1Torpy, J., Burke, A., & Golub, R. (2012) Hospice care. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 308(2), 200.
2Lindley, L., Shaw, S. L., Beaman, A., & Beaman, S. (2014). Who are the children using hospice care? Journal for Specialists in Pediatric Nursing, 19(4), 308-315.